# Test of variable under conflict

[From Bruce Nevin (2000.1014.2038 EDT)]

Bruce Nevin (2000.1012.1236 EDT)--
>Methodology for applying the Test when a controlled variable is
>under conflict is so far as I know unspecified. And in general,
>when we test for controlled variables, how do we know that conflict
>is not involved? How can we distinguish the following two cases:
>
>1. Subject is controlling X at value m.
>2. Subject is controlling X at value a, and is also controlling X
>at value z, and the outcome is that the subject appears to be
>controlling X at the value m.

I was wrong, and these can be distinguished, but conflict complicates the picture, and there are some methodological issues with the Test when internal conflict is present.

Case 1, symmetrically maxed out. Suppose the conflicting control systems are both exerting maximum output. Disturbance assists one control system or the other. This gives the appearance that the disturbance is overpowering control of X at value m. No matter how weak you make the disturbance, if it moves the value toward a (assisting control at value b) or if it moves the value toward b (assisting control at value a), it looks like you are overwhelming control at value m. Yet when the disturbance ceases, the value returns to m, the equilibrium point of the conflict. This appearance of control that is infinitely easy to overpower is evidence of maxed-out conflict.

Case 2, symmetrical but not maxed out. Suppose the two systems are exerting much less than maximum output while maintaining an equilibrium point at value m. This is evidence of a higher-level control system setting the value m and exerting some output from both of the opposing control systems to maintain that value against disturbances. Example: opposing muscles are in tension against one another, maintaining posture in readiness for action (muscle tone). Disturbance toward either value a or value b meets resistance from the counteracting control system tending to restore the value to m. Not hard to Test at all, and you get three controlled variables with one Test (with disturbances in both directions), two at the lower level and one at the higher.

Case 3, assymmetrical equilibrium. Suppose the system controlling value a is maxed out, but the system controlling value b is not. This gives the appearance of control at intermediate values such as m, but with an odd assymmetry of resistance: disturbance toward value a is resisted by the system controlling value b, disturbance toward value b cannot effectively be resisted by the maxed-out system controlling value a. Why would the stronger system not overpower the weaker one until the value was b, and keep it there? A higher-level control system must be controlling some other variable, maybe a sequence perception, and the appearance of controlling X near the value m is incidental. Perhaps there are neurotic behaviors that come out of internal conflicts of this type. I haven't been able to imagine an example. Maybe it doesn't occur.

It seems that internal conflict should not last long. Sustained error should lead to reorganization.

Higher levels of control sometimes involve "deferred gratification." This can feel like conflict. For example, a sequence perception in which control of perception Y in accord with reference a is deferred until after successful control of perception X (or of the same perception X in accord with a different reference signal). Or control of a Principle can override control of a lower-level perception with something like internal conflict. I'm hungry and I want to pick up the apple in the bowl and eat it but I am a visitor and that would be impolite. I want to respond in kind to sarcastic or abrasive language, but I have learned (a principle?) that this is ineffective and will not accomplish my aim in saying what the person replied to in that way. That kind of thing. Being civilized. This can feel like internal conflict, and indeed like a tradeoff between internal conflict and interpersonal conflict, but is it really? Or is there some other mechanism by which the higher level overrides the lower level of control, with some residue sometimes of physiological consequences of control starting at the lower level and then --
Stopping? Ending? Being thwarted, opposed, in conflict? The feelings of hunger persist. The feelings of anger may persist. That does not necessarily mean that control at the lower level persists -- control of eating that apple or of retaliating against that person.

Suppose one Tested for the higher level of control by exactly the sort of disturbances that illustrate the two cases (apple near a hungry non-friend guest, gratuitous insult in response to a careful presentation). If the apple is uneaten, and there is no retaliation to the insult, is it because of the higher level of control, or because of an absence of the lower level of control? We would have to assume the lower level of control (universalism, "he surely would do as I would do"). Is such an assumption valid?

Maybe this sketch of socalled "impulse control" and the like is off the mark. If so, then what is a proper PCT account of it?

Bruce Nevin

···

At 12:37 PM 10/12/2000 -0700, Bruce Nevin wrote:

[From Bruce Nevin (2000.1015.1355 EDT)]

Bruce Nevin (2000.1014.2038 EDT)--

···

At 10:39 PM 10/14/2000 -0700, Bruce Nevin wrote:

Maybe this sketch of socalled "impulse control" and the like is off the mark.

May be. That "impulse" doesn't come from your Wheaties. A reference for eating that apple or for retaliating against that obnox must come from error in some higher-level control system. So at some point we get to conflict between two systems at the same level, one which we might call "impulsive" and one which we might call "civilized" (in this example).

Bruce Nevin

[From Rick Marken (2000.10.16.1000)]

Bruce Nevin (2000.1012.1236 EDT)--

Methodology for applying the Test when a controlled variable is
under conflict is so far as I know unspecified.

A "methodology for applying the Test when a controlled variable is
under conflict" implies that one already knows, before doing the
Test, that that there is a conflict. But if one actually knows that
there is a conflict there is no need to do the Test; one already
knows what the controlled variable is; it's the one the system is
_trying_ but failing to control due to the conflict.

I think we need methods other than the Test in order to study
conflict. The Test will tell you _how well_ a variable is being
controlled; but it won't tell you _why_ the variable is being
controlled that well (or poorly). If the Test tells you that
a variable is being controlled extremely well, then you can be
very confident that you have identified a controlled variable.
If, however, the Test tells you that a variable is _not_ being
controlled very well then there are at least three possible
reasons for this finding:

1. The variable, as defined, is not a controlled variable.

This is the default hypothesis when a variable fails the
Test. The next step is to try a different definition of the
possible controlled variable and Test again.

2. The variable, as defined, _is_ a "would be" controlled variable;
the behaving system is trying to control this variable but is not
controlling it well because the system has not yet learned _how_
to control the variable.

This might be one of our hypotheses if we have reason to
believe that most control systems of this type _do_ control this
variable.

3. The variable, as defined, _is_ a controlled variable; the behaving
system is trying to control the variable but is not controlling it
very well because there is a conflict.

This might be another hypothesis if we have reason to believe
that most control systems of this type _do_ (or are able to) control
this variable.

Actually, I can now think of a fourth possibility;

4. The variable, as defined, _is_ a controlled variable; the behaving
system _would_ try to control the variable but is not controlling it
because the system is prevented from doing so by force or the threat
thereof.

This might be still another hypothesis if we have reason to believe
that many control systems of this type _do_ (or are able to) control
this variable.

I think there are ways to determine _why_ control is poor when it is;
whether it is poor (or absent) due to lack of skill, conflict or
threat of force. But I think we would look into these possibilities
only when we had some very good reasons to suspect that the poorly
(or non) controlled variable might actually be a potential controlled
variable.

For example, a female gray lag goose who can't successfully roll
an egg into her nest is probably trying to control a perception
of the egg but is not succeeding due to lack of skill. A researcher
who found such a goose would probably assume that the goose _was_
trying to control the egg perception and would look for an explanation
of the poor control. One possible explanation is sensory of motor
damage. Knowing the details of the perception controlled by normal
gray lag mothers (revealed by the Test) would point the researcher
to the most likely locations of any possible sensory or motor loss.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313

[Bill Curry (2000.10.16.1430 EDT)]

Rick Marken (2000.10.16.1000)]--

I think there are ways to determine _why_ control is poor when it is;
whether it is poor (or absent) due to lack of skill, conflict or
threat of force. But I think we would look into these possibilities
only when we had some very good reasons to suspect that the poorly
(or non) controlled variable might actually be a potential controlled
variable.

Of your four possibilities, reasons #2, #3, and #4 could present in
various combinations making the analysis of why control is poor more
complex than you have presented it, no?

Regards,

Bill C.

···

--
William J. Curry
Capticom, Inc.
capticom@landmarknet.net

[From Rick Marken (2000.10.16.1250)

Bill Curry (2000.10.16.1430 EDT)--

Of your four possibilities, reasons #2, #3, and #4 could
present in various combinations making the analysis of why
control is poor more complex than you have presented it, no?

I agree. I didn't mean to imply that determining the reasons
for poor control would be easy. All the Test tells you is
that the person isn't controlling some variable (X) very well,
say. Determining why this is true could be a whole research
project in its own right.

Bruce Nevin (2000.10.16.1510 EDT)--

4 is a particular interpretation of 3.

Yes, I agree. But I was thinking of the case where a higher
level system controls for not perceiving the unwanted of
consequences of controlling for X by setting the reference for
the lower level system controlling the perception of X to zero.
For example, the homosexual who sets the reference for revealing
this fact to zero for fear of the consequences of doing so. There
is no conflict in this case; just disturbance resistance. The
person would control for a non-zero perception of X if there
were no credible threat of disturbance (consequence) to the
perception controlled by the higher level system if it did so.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313

[From Rick Marken (2000.10.16.1430)]

Bruce Nevin (2000.10.16.1647 EDT)

Looks like internal conflict to me.

Me too. You have convinced me. Option 4 is just a restatement
of option 3. So, when we find a variable that is poorly
controlled, the options are (I think):

1. The variable, as defined, is not a controlled variable.

2. The variable, as defined, _is_ a "would be" controlled
variable that the behaving system is trying to control but
currently cannot control successfully due to skill limitations.

3. The variable, as defined, _is_ a controlled variable that
the behaving system is trying to control the variable but
currently cannot control successfully due to internal conflict.

How's that?

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313

[From Bruce Nevin (2000.10.16.1510 EDT)]

4 is a particular interpretation of 3.

Rick Marken (2000.10.16.1000)--

···

At 09:51 AM 10/16/2000 -0700, Richard S. Marken wrote:

3. The variable, as defined, _is_ a controlled variable; the behaving
system is trying to control the variable but is not controlling it
very well because there is a conflict.

4. The variable, as defined, _is_ a controlled variable; the behaving
system _would_ try to control the variable but is not controlling it
because the system is prevented from doing so by force or the threat
thereof.

Bruce Nevin

[From Bruce Nevin (2000.10.16.1647 EDT)]

Are you saying that the person continues to control X during the time that the higher-level system has set the reference level for X to zero?

Rick Marken (2000.10.16.1250)--

Bruce Nevin (2000.10.16.1510 EDT)--

I was thinking of the case where a higher
level system controls for not perceiving the unwanted [...]
consequences of controlling for X by setting the reference for
the lower level system controlling the perception of X to zero.

A parallel: Bruce Gregory controls "completing this email message" by setting the reference for "eating Cherry Garcia" to zero. (Or, to tighten the verbal parallel, he controls "the unwanted consequences of not completing this email message".)

For example, the homosexual who sets the reference for revealing
this fact to zero for fear of the consequences of doing so. There
is no conflict in this case;

Where does the reference for "revealing this fact" come from? As I realized (in a later post that maybe you haven't got to), it doesn't come from the person's Wheaties. Suppose she wants to reveal her sexual orientation as means of controlling "human relationships in which I feel happy." I don't know what consequences in particular you have in mind, but if those consequences evoke fear then they probably do so because disturb some perception Y, control of which (in presence of this disturbance) conflicts with controlling perception X. Looks like internal conflict to me.

That in general is the nature of risk avoidance, threat, etc.

just disturbance resistance. The
person would control for a non-zero perception of X if there
were no credible threat of disturbance (consequence) to the
perception controlled by the higher level system if it did so.

When the conflict goes away, they are able to control more successfully.

Bruce Nevin

···

At 12:46 PM 10/16/2000 -0700, Richard S. Marken wrote:

[From Bruce Nevin (2000.10.16.1802 EDT)]

So it's hard to tell what's going on during internal conflict.

If the conflicting control systems together maintain value m intermediate between the values a and b which they are respectively trying to control, it looks like one system controlling with reference value m.

If the conflict results in changing the reference at the lower level to zero (the means of control), it looks like non-control at the lower level.

Is it in fact non-control? (I don't think this is a trick question, but it is a repeated question.)

Rick Marken (2000.10.16.1000)--

A "methodology for applying the Test when a controlled variable is
under conflict" implies that one already knows, before doing the
Test, that that there is a conflict.

It's hard to tell what's going on precisely because one doesn't know in advance whether there is internal conflict or not. So a better way for me to state the problem might be:

"What is good methodology for applying the Test when a controlled variable may be under conflict?"

Or:

"What is good methodology for determining whether a proposed variable is under conflict?"

How's that?

Bruce Nevin

···

At 09:51 AM 10/16/2000 -0700, Richard S. Marken wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2000.11.17.0900)]

Me:

A "methodology for applying the Test when a controlled
variable is under conflict" implies that one already knows,
before doing the Test, that that there is a conflict.

Bruce Nevin (2000.10.16.1802 EDT)

It's hard to tell what's going on precisely because one
doesn't know in advance whether there is internal conflict
or not.

to be. I think the chances of running into a controlled variable
that happens to be "uncontrolled" due to conflict are very
small. People just don't stay in conflicts for long. Bruce
Gregory's conflict between eating ice cream and typing e-mails,
for example, probably didn't last for more than a second of two.
If it had, Bruce would be caught in the middle, neither able to
eat the ice cream nor type the e-mails. Of course, it's possible
that that is why we haven't heard from Bruce in a while; perhaps
he is sitting immobilized between melted Cherry Garcia ice cream
and a repeating screen saver display. But I doubt it. Conflicts
like this are usually solved very quickly by using the lower
level, conflicted controlled variable (what one's hands are
doing, in this case) to sequentially produce the reference state
of one controlled variable (eat the ice cream) and then the other
(type the e-mail).

While everyday conflicts like this are probably not uncommon, I
think they are usually solved so quickly that they are rarely
even noticed. I can think of some clinical conditions that may
be examples of sustained conflict, however. For example, some forms
of catatonia, where a person literally remains frozen in one
position for some time, probably represents a conflict. In this
case a potential controlled variable (body position) remains
fixed in a _virtual_ reference state (the frozen position) because
it is being used as the means of achieving two higher level goals
which require body position to be in two incompatible reference
states.

Sustained conflict like this is even more unusual in animals, I
think. But situations can be created where you can observe such
conflicts. For example, I've heard that a monkey can be put in
conflict by placing food in a narrow necked bottle. When the
monkey grasps the food in the bottle it is unable to remove
it's hand. Apparently, this happens because there is a conflict
between two goals; getting food and getting the hand out. The
variable that is apparently in conflict is the perception of the
shape of the hand. To achieve the "hand out of the bottle" goal
the hand must be _unclasped_; to achieve the "get food" goal the
hand must be _clasped_ around the food. The hand cannot be both
clasped and unclasped at the same time. So, as long as both higher
level goals are in effect, the hand remains clasped enough to
prevent achievement of either goal. I think the monkey remains
in this conflict indefinitely; unlike people, it can't see the
problem from a higher level. But I think this kind of conflict
is rare in animals and happens only in unusual circumstances.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313

from Bill Powers (2000.10.17.1458 MDT)]

Bruce Nevin (2000.10.16.1647 EDT)--

Are you saying that the person continues to control X during the time that
the higher-level system has set the reference level for X to zero?

If this is a two-way control system, the answer is yes. Setting the
reference level of X to zero means that any disturbance tending to create a
nonzero value of X will result in actions tending to restore X to zero.

If the control system is one-way, there are two possibilities: X is kept <=
R or X is kept >= R. One-way control systems are typically found when there
is some constant external disturbance, like gravity, always acting. When R
(reference level) is set to zero, the system will act for one sign of
disturbance but not the other. A home thermostat is an example: the normal
disturbance is a heat loss which tends to lower the room temperature. The
furnace spends more or less time on, according to how much temperature
difference there is between inside and outside. If the outside temperature
is equal to or greater than the thermostat's set-point, however, the
thermostat will never turn on because the room temperature will always be
at or above the temperature set-point. The effective zero for the reference
setting would be the outside temperature.

All two-way control systems in the nervous system must be made up of two
one-way systems acting in opposite directions, since neural currents can't
change sign. Opposing pairs of control systems would receive a composite
reference signal, one comnponent increasing when the other decreases, as in
a push-pull audio amplifier. If both components are increased, both sides
of the control system will be active, producing some level of opposing
outputs. If the output functions are nonlinear, this will have the effect
of changing the output gain. When this happens with opposing muscle systems
(biceps and triceps) the effect is to alter the spring constant of the
muscle, making it stiff or flaccid. Of course this is practical only for
mildly opposing outputs.

When both of the opposing reference signals are set to zero, each opposing
control system experiences zero error and produces zero output. For the
biceps/triceps pair, a disturbance that increases tension in either muscle
can only increase the inhibition, since the feedback is inhibitory. With a
reference signal of zero and an inhibitory feedback signal (however large),
there can be no output from either comparator. Hence, setting both
reference signals to zero in this kind of two-way control system
effectively turns both directions of control off.

Nolte that this works only for systems in which the reference signal is
excitatory and the feedback signal is inhibitory.

Best,

Bill P.

[From Rick Marken (2000.10.18.1020)]

Me:

People just don't stay in conflicts for long.

Bruce Nevin (2000.10.18.1047 EDT) --

Yes, I agreed (2000.1014.2038 EDT)...

But the "quiet desperation" of many people's lives does
seem to reflect conflict.

To the extent that "quiet desperation" means "lack of control"
then, again, this could be because 1) your definition of the
controlled variable is wrong 2) the person is not able to control
the variable or 3) the person is in conflict.

It may be that reorganization never starts so long as the
person is able to live with the problem without much distress.

I think this is crucial. I think many people do live with systems
that are setting goals that would put lower level systems into
conflict in certain situations. I think what ends up happening is
that higher level systems learn to control in ways that avoid
situations where these conflicts would manifest themselves as
loss of control. So, for example, the person who has a conflict
that makes it impossible to control food intake learns to control
for avoidance of situations (like going out to nice restaurants)
where this conflict would manifest itself.

I think conflicts like these, that don't manifest themselves but,
when they do, lead to loss of control of some perception, are the
kind of conflicts that are discovered using MOL. The higher level
controlling that avoids conflict-producing situations could, indeed,
be "constraining a person's life options" (limiting lower level
reference settings) and, to an observer, this might look like a
"life of quiet desperation". But, from the point of view of the
behaving system, it could just be a life of conflict-free peace.

I think the benefits of conflict avoidance are particularly
evident in the case of _interpersonal_ conflict. In this case,
the conflict producing systems are in physically separate
individuals so reorganization (including "going up a level")
can't solve the conflict. The _only_ solution to interpersonal
conflict may be conflict avoidance.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313

[From Bruce Nevin (2000.10.18.1043 EDT)]

Bill Powers (2000.10.17.1458 MDT)--

Yes, I see that I misinterpreted Rick

Rick Marken (2000.10.16.1250)--

I was thinking of the case where a higher
level system controls for not perceiving the unwanted of
consequences of controlling for X by setting the reference for
the lower level system controlling the perception of X to zero.
For example, the homosexual who sets the reference for revealing
this fact to zero for fear of the consequences of doing so. There
is no conflict in this case; just disturbance resistance. The
person would control for a non-zero perception of X if there
were no credible threat of disturbance (consequence) to the
perception controlled by the higher level system if it did so.

I assumed he meant that this person stops controlling "revealing one's homosexual identity" for fear of the consequences, and that the mechanism to stop controlling that was to set the reference to zero. A careless mistake. Of course avoidance and denial are control just as much as approach and affirmation are. (And yes, I alluded to opposed control loops as in muscle tone.)

Going on from there, the general case is of course not to control X at zero, but rather "whatever value of X is effective means to avoid the unwanted consequences." In other words, the person uses control of X as means to control the unwanted consequences U at zero. It is the unwanted consequences U that have the reference value of zero, and the reference value for X is whatever it takes to avoid U. (This is the mechanism that is exploited in contingencies and threats.)

Does this mean that control of unwanted consequences U is at a higher level in the hierarchy than control of desired consequences X? I think the answer is clearly no. Some effect of controlling X is a disturbance to controlling U. There is a conflict between controlling X and controlling U at the same time. Some third factor determines that controlling U at zero is more important than controlling X. This third factor could be a control system ("When in conflict, alternate"; "Go with the flow"; "Stick to your guns"; "Avoid pain"; "Abide by your principles, especially if it hurts"; "Be yourself, but what that is is nobody else's business" [i.e. "Don't ask, don't tell"], etc.). Or I suppose it could have something to do with relative gain, though I don't understand that proposal at all.

A conflict normally is symmetrical. Not only does control of X interfere with control of U, but control of U interferes with control of X. Is this so here? I don't know what unwanted consequences Rick had in mind that would closet a homosexual. Suppose he's imagining the person being beaten, with possibility of death. That would certainly interfere with control of intrinsic variables. But it would not interfere with "revealing".

"Revealing" is kind of a revealing term to use. In this example, it means "not concealing" i.e. no longer avoiding U by pretending to be other than homosexual. In other words, avoidance of U is in this example a long-standing condition, the norm.

Whether the contingency U is a long-standing norm of the community or culture, or a transient threat, what we are talking about is peculiar among conflicts by being assymmetrical. Control of X at most values interferes with control of U at zero, but not vice versa. And failure to control U at zero interferes with control of intrinsic variables, but not vice versa.

The appearance of assymmetry probably is due to excising just two variables from the larger system. Control of X other than as means for avoiding U would contribute to successful control of intrinsic variables, but not as much as failure to control U at zero would interfere with control of intrinsic variables. Either way, the reference for X is ultimately set as means of controlling intrinsic variables. Or so the hypothesis goes.

Bruce Nevin

···

At 03:21 PM 10/17/2000 -0600, Bill Powers wrote:

[From Bruce Nevin (2000.10.18.1047 EDT)]

Rick Marken (2000.11.17.0900)--

the chances of running into a controlled variable
that happens to be "uncontrolled" due to conflict are very
small. People just don't stay in conflicts for long.

Yes, I agreed (2000.1014.2038 EDT):

It seems that internal conflict should not last long. Sustained error should lead to reorganization.

This follows from a basic PCT postulate about reorganization.

But the "quiet desperation" of many people's lives does seem to reflect conflict. So I am not convinced of the Universal Truth of this postulate of PCT. To be sure, this refers to conflict at a higher level than using your hands for eating vs. using them for typing. Maybe the difference has to do with the general slowing-down of things the higher you go in the hierarchy.

Rick Marken (2000.11.17.0900)--

Conflicts like this are usually solved very quickly by using
the lower level, conflicted controlled variable [...]
to sequentially produce the reference state
of one controlled variable and then the other

If intrinsic variables are maintained at OK levels, and if imagined alternatives are (say) frightening, either a relatively stable intermediate state or oscillation can continue and can be liveable for a long time.

[Example of monkey stuck grasping food inside a bottle.]

I think the monkey remains
in this conflict indefinitely; unlike people, it can't see the
problem from a higher level.

People don't always see a problem from a higher level. It may be that reorganization never starts so long as the person is able to live with the problem without much distress. If intrinsic variables are at OK levels, and especially if imagined alternatives involve strongly avoided values of some controlled variables or other, this can be liveable for a long time. Clinicians I think could provide many examples of people being "stuck". MOL has turned up examples.

Bruce Nevin

···

At 08:51 AM 10/17/2000 -0700, Richard S. Marken wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2000.10.18.1400)]

Me:

The _only_ solution to interpersonal conflict may be conflict
avoidance.

Bruce Nevin (2000.10.18.1604 EDT) --

I suggest a study of _Getting to Yes: Negotiating agreement
without giving in_, by Roger Fisher and William Ury of the Harvard
Negotiation Project, or insight into and examples of going up a
level in interpersonal conflicts.

Yes. Negotiation is, indeed, one way to solve interpersonal
conflict without avoiding it. Very good point. Though I don't
see how negotiation can work without both parties "giving in",
at least to some extent. Could you give a quick example of a
negotiated agreement where neither party "gives in"?

When I suggested that the only solution to interpersonal conflict
may be conflict avoidance, I was thinking of cases of inter-
personal conflict where the conflicting goals seem to be non-
negotiable; scientific conflicts, for example, such as the one
where the goal of one party was to hear the other agree that
the sun moves around a stationary earth while the goal of the
other party is to hear the first agree that the earth moves
around a stationary sun. Do Fisher and Ury suggest methods
Galileo could have used to to get the Pope to "Yes. The earth
moves around the sun"? I think the only way for Galileo and/or
the Pope to have solved that conflict was to have avoided it
(as Galileo eventually did).

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313

[From Bruce Nevin (2000.10.18.1604 EDT)]

···

At 10:13 AM 10/18/2000 -0700, Richard S. Marken wrote:

Rick Marken (2000.10.18.1020)
I think the benefits of conflict avoidance are particularly
evident in the case of _interpersonal_ conflict. In this case,
the conflict producing systems are in physically separate
individuals so reorganization (including "going up a level")
can't solve the conflict. The _only_ solution to interpersonal
conflict may be conflict avoidance.

I suggest a study of _Getting to Yes: Negotiating agreement without giving in_, by Roger Fisher and William Ury of the Harvard Negotiation Project, for insight into and examples of going up a level in interpersonal conflicts. Of course they don't call it "going up a level", but that's very much what it's about. There are other sources too.

Bruce Nevin

[From Mike Acree (2000.10.18.1606 PDT)]

Rick Marken (2000.10.18.1400)--

Though I don't
see how negotiation can work without both parties "giving in",
at least to some extent. Could you give a quick example of a
negotiated agreement where neither party "gives in"?

Relabeling/recategorizing is one such approach. Some years ago Milton
Erickson was counseling a couple where the husband had gone after the wife
with an ax. He persuaded them that this was the husband's misguided attempt
at being close.

Mike

[From Bruce Nevin (2000.10.18.1920 EDT)]

Rick Marken (2000.10.18.1400)--

When I suggested that the only solution to interpersonal conflict
may be conflict avoidance, I was thinking of cases of inter-
personal conflict where the conflicting goals seem to be non-
negotiable[...] Do Fisher and Ury suggest methods
Galileo could have used to to get the Pope to "Yes. The earth
moves around the sun"?

Some of the historical facts:

Oct. 1611: At a debate during a state dinner for two visiting cardinals, Galileo repeats the Archimedean arguments about bodies in water. He is supported by Cardinal Maffeo Barberini (later Pope Urban VIII), who became one of Galileo's patrons at this time. [http://es.rice.edu/ES/humsoc/Galileo/galileo_timeline.html]

Maffeo Barberini was an accomplished man of letters, who published several volumes of verse. Upon Galileo's return to Florence, in 1610, Barberini came to admire Galileo's intelligence and sharp wit. During a court dinner, in 1611, at which Galileo defended his view on floating bodies, Barberini supported Galileo against Cardinal Gonzaga. From this point, their patron-client relationship flourished until it was undone in 1633. Upon Barberini's ascendance of the papal throne, in 1623, Galileo came to Rome and had six interviews with the new Pope. It was at these meetings that Galileo was given permission to write about the Copernican theory, as long as he treated it as a hypothesis. After the publication of Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems of the World , in 1632, the patronage relationship was broken. It appears that the Pope never forgave Galileo for putting the argument of God's omnipotence (the argument he himself had put to Galileo in 1623) in the mouth of Simplicio, the staunch Aristotelian whose arguments had been systematically destroyed in the previous 400-odd pages. At any rate, the Pope resisted all efforts to have Galileo pardoned.

Oct. 1611: At a debate during a state dinner for two visiting cardinals, Galileo repeats the Archimedean arguments abouts bodies in water. He is supported by Cardinal Maffeo Barberini (later Pope Urban VIII), who became one of Galileo's patrons at this time.

1613 Dec. Benedetto Castelli, professor of Mathematics as the University of Pisa, and a student of Galileo, defends the Copernican theory to the Grand Duchess Dowager Christina of Lorraine.

1614 Dec. Tommaso Caccini, a Dominican friar preaches a sermon in Florence against Galileo and mathematicians who subscribe to the Copernican view which, Caccini avers, is heretical.

1615 Jan. Caccini's superior apologizes to Galileo in writing.

Feb. A Dominican friar Niccolo Lorini, who had earlier criticized Galileo's view in private conversations, files a written complaint with the Inquisition against Galileo's Copernican views. He encloses a copy of Galileo's letter to Castelli.
[http://es.rice.edu/ES/humsoc/Galileo/galileo_timeline.html]

And so on. Quite a bit more complicated than getting the Pope to "Yes. The earth moves around the sun". More like fence-mending after Galileo's attempt to be witty was taken by Barberini/Urban VIII (with some justification) to be a personal insult. The dogs of the Inquisition were set on Galileo by minor figures in monastic orders that frequently were unruly problems to the Pope and whom he surely regarded as his intellectual as well as political inferiors. The Pope probably could have called them off -- but he chose not to.

So this was not a matter for negotiation, but rather for recognition of affront, apology, and re-establishing of friendship/patronage. Galileo did try but it was a tough job and he wasn't particularly good at it--as evidenced by making that impolitic Simplicio move in the first place. Perhaps he was one of those people who likes to provoke conflict. Sort of like if you went into a West Texas bar on a saturday night and started loudly proclaiming that George W. Bush ... well, you get the picture. I hope.

Once you're in the hands of the Inquisition, options for negotiation are limited. Fisher & Uri do have a chapter titled "What if they're more powerful." But rather than going to extreme cases of coercion, why not start with more usual forms of conflict? I'll stop this post here to keep it from becoming too long, and in another take up your simpler question,

Could you give a quick example of a
negotiated agreement where neither party "gives in"?

Bruce Nevin

···

At 02:20 PM 10/18/2000 -0700, Richard S. Marken wrote:

[From Bruce Nevin (2000.10.18.1955 EDT)]

Rick Marken (2000.10.18.1400)--

Could you give a quick example of a
negotiated agreement where neither party "gives in"?

Tom's parked car was wiped out by a dump truck. It was insured. The negotiation is with the insurance adjuster.

We've studied your case, and we've decided the policy applies. That means you're entitled to a settlement of \$3,300.

Tom
I see. How did you reach that figure?

IA
That's how much we decided the car was worth.

Tom
I understand, but what standard did you use to determine that amount? Do yo know where I can buy a comparable car for that much?

IA
How much are you asking for?

Tom
Whatever I'm entitled to under the policy. I found a second-hand car just about like it for \$3,850. Adding the sales and excise tax, it would come to about \$4,000.

IA
\$4,000! That's too much!

Tom
I'm not asking for \$4,000, or \$3,000 or \$5,000, but for fair compensation. Do you agree that it's only fair I get enough to replace the car?

IA
OK, I'll offer you \$3,500. That's the highest I can go. Company policy.

Tom
How does the company figure that?

IA
Look, \$3,500 is all you'll get. Take it or leave it.

Tom
\$3,500 may be fair. I don't know. I certainly understand your position if you're bound by company policy. But unless you can state objectively why taht amount is what I'm entitled to, I think I'll do better in court. Why don't we study the matter and talk again? Is Wednesday at eleven a good time to talk?

...

IA
OK, Mr. Griffith, I've got an ad here in today's paper offering a '78 Fiesta for \$3,400.

Tom
I see. What does it say about the mileage?

IA
49,000. Why?

Tom
Because mine only had 25,000 miles. How many dollars does that increase the worth in your book?

IA
Let me see ... \$150.

Tom
Assuming the \$3,400 as one possible base, that brings the figure to \$3,550. Does the ad say anything about a radio?

IA
No.

Tom
How much extra for that in your book?

IA
\$125

Tom
How much for air conditioning?

...

A half-hour later Tom walked out with a check for \$4,012.

(Fisher & Ury pp. 96 ff.)

This exemplifies all the main principles for good negotiation that they have identified. A more extensive example, with each step explained and annotated, is in the chapter "What if they won't play? (Use negotiation jujitsu)" and begins on p. 122. You might find it worth while looking it up. From that explanation you can see clearly what's going on in the above example.

···

At 02:20 PM 10/18/2000 -0700, Richard S. Marken wrote:

[From Rick Marken (2000.10.18.2100)]

Me:

Do Fisher and Ury suggest methods Galileo could have used
to to get the Pope to "Yes. The earth moves around the sun"?

Bruce Nevin (2000.10.18.1920 EDT)--

Some of the historical facts:..

OK. Let me try it again.

Do Fisher and Ury suggest methods Galileo could have used
to get _anyone_ who believed strongly that the earth does not
move around the sun to "Yes. The earth moves around the sun"?

I don't believe there is any way to make this happen, short of
coercion. I think Fisher and Ury are good salesmen, though. They
have apparently managed to sell a lot of people on this idea.

Me:

Could you give a quick example of a negotiated agreement where
neither party "gives in"?

Bruce Nevin (2000.10.18.1955 EDT)--

Tom's parked car was wiped out by a dump truck....

...you're entitled to a settlement of \$3,300...

Tom
I found a second-hand car...it would come to about \$4,000.

IA
\$4,000! That's too much!

...

A half-hour later Tom walked out with a check for \$4,012.

The IA wanted to pay \$3300; Tom wanted \$4000. The IA ends up
paying \$712 more than he wanted; Tom ends us getting exactly
what he wanted. This is an example of a "negotiated" agreement
where one party, the IA, "gives in" completely. I was hoping
to get an example of the kind of negotiated agreement promised
by Fisher and Ury; one where _neither party_ "gives in" at all.

I think calling the negotiation betweem "Tom" and the "IA' one
where neither party "gives in" is very misleading. In fact,
it doesn't seem like a negotiation at all. It sounds like
Tom manages to talk the IA into giving him everything Tom wants.
The IA lost and Tom won this "negotiation". I think Fisher and
Ury were able to sell this as a negotiated agreement where no
one "gives in" because their audience assumes that the IA can
afford whatever Tom manages to get out of him. If the negotiation
had ended up with the IA rather than Tom as the winner (the IA
walking away having paid Tom only \$3300) I think the deception
would have been obvious.

A real negotiation can _only_ be successful if people _give
in_ to some extent. It looks to me like Fisher and Ury have
successfully sold their audience a rather hefty bill of goods.

Best

Rick

···

--

Richard S. Marken Phone or Fax: 310 474-0313